How Toxic Wildfire Smoke Could Be


California’s wildfire season this year has impacted immense strips of the United States. There were reports of plumes of smoke being carried along the jet stream as far as the East Coast. It was so extreme that New York state issued an Air Quality Health Advisory because of the increased levels of particulate matter. Recent studies discovered that smoke from wildfires not only consists of toxic chemicals but also amplifies the chance of contracting respiratory viruses. Such as the coronavirus.

How Is Air Quality Determined?

There are four or five different particles that determine the quality of air. These are carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. These provide an air quality index. Air quality is measured by a numbered scale which begins at zero and goes to five hundred. However, it does not have to get to the highest number in order to present a significant health concern. According to the numbered scale, zero to fifty is considered to be good. Fifty to one hundred the air quality begins to be moderately not too good. Then anything above one hundred and fifty to two hundred is considered really terrible air quality, even though the scale goes all the way to five hundred.

Poor Air Quality Impacts Health

Particulate matter known as PM 2.5 are really small particles found in the atmosphere. These decrease the visibility and result in the air appearing hazy, as the levels are elevated. In theory it is assumed that PM 2.5, which means the particles are smaller than 2.5 microns, are tiny enough to find their way into the lungs. There they can exacerbate or create serious underlying lung conditions. It could be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, and of course COVID-19. It is assumed that the fertile conditions created by the inflammation is a magnet for the coronavirus.

PM 2.5 Amplifies The Risk Of Developing COVID-19

Wildfire smoke might greatly enhance the vulnerability to the coronavirus which results in COVID-19. Scientists discovered an approximately eighteen percent increase in COVID-19 cases subsequent to the prolonged 2020 wildfires in Nevada. Researchers used models to review the relationship between PM 2.5 in smoke from wildfires and COVID-19 positivity rate received from Renown Health. It was concluded that PM 2.5 found in smoke from wildfires was the cause for the 17.7 percent rise in COVID-19 cases during that period.

Smoke From Wildfires Could Contain Toxic Substances

Scientists discovered that toxins such as manganese, zinc and lead amplified during the deadly campfire in 2018. Structures that are on fire could generate a range of deadly substances. An analysis discovered that this was indeed the case during the campfire. It burned for over two weeks. While it was burning, it was found that manganese, iron, calcium, zinc and lead levels were elevated in the atmosphere. Smoke which transports these metals covers distances well over 150 miles.

The more the smoke from wildfires travels through the atmosphere, the more diluted it becomes. The more it spreads out, the more the rain, moisture and jet stream remove particles from the air.

Protecting Oneself During Air Quality Alerts

The Environmental Protection Agency states that HEPA is short for high efficiency particulate air filter. It is a pleated mechanical filter for the air, and everyone should have one of these installed indoors. It has been proven to remove up to 99.97 percent of the contaminants and air borne particulate matter measuring 0.3 microns. The HEPA filter is similar to what is found in an air conditioner unit. It is also vital to the protection against the harmful particles found in smoke of wildfires.